My dear brothers and sisters in the faith I wanted to speak to you this evening about an important issue.
I have been given some consideration to what the worst sin is that can affect us as Christian and our relationship with God and often with the people around us, the people that we care for the most.
What I am speaking about is the Sin of Pride, for the Christian the consequences of the sin of Pride is quite damning.
I know this to be true because I’m guilty of it, the sin of Pride destroyed my relationships, the sin of Pride took me to the cliff-edge and pushed me in and the fall was long into that chasm of despair.
When you hit the bottom it’s not a soft landing it’s the hardest of landings.
Pride strips you of everything, everything that you were everything that you are but not everything you can be because there is only one word that describes everything that you can be and that is humility..
Pride and humility are opposites, I have heard so many people say that they are proud of their achievements is it not far better to say that I am humbled by the achievements I have made knowing that others may not have made them.
Pride leads to conceit, conceit destroys the soul humility leads to truthfulness and truthfulness puts life into a diseased soul.
5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us”.
Christ Our Advocate
2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
This is a very interesting passage of scripture from 1 John 1and 1 John 2. It is a very relevant portion of scripture being we’ve just had Christmas where we celebrated the birth of the Christ child, Jesus Christ the light of the world as we are reminded by that great painting by William Holman Hunt who came to deliver us from the darkness of Sin. So the question we have to ask ourselves is what is Sin.
Sin in its purest form is an act of wrongdoing according to scripture laid down by God. However the dichotomy for Christians is that which we as Christians may consider sinful according to scripture but the law of the land may not consider illegal. Now this was the conflict that I faced everyday as a police officer as a Christian Police Officer and it comes down to authority. As a police officer my authority to enforce the law came from those who had enacted legislation sinful people because not one Member of Parliament can say that they are without sin. If any MP got up in the chamber and said they had never committed a wrong in their lives then I would call that person out to be a liar because we have all committed wrongs therefore we have all committed sin of one type or another. Some people find it easier than others to justify it but the truth is that there is no justification for sin no matter how small that sin maybe.
Today day I have committed a sin I have committed the sin of covetousness. I was looking at a shop window and something caught my eye I said to myself I must have that although I didn’t really need it I just wanted it so that somebody else wouldn’t have it, well my friends that is the sin of covetousness and it is a sin that we are all guilty of and it is a sin that we must guard ourselves against.
Finally I say to my Christian brothers and sisters do not use the crucifixion of Christ as an excuse to continue committing acts of wrongdoing do not use the crucifixion of Christ as a way of appeasing our own consciences when we know we are in the wrong. We say that the crucifixion of Christ was the once and for all propitiation for sin I have to say that I am beginning to question that in that when I commit a wrong towards my brother or sister am I not crucifying Christ a second time. Well I’ll leave that one for you
I have watched this film 5 times on Netflix and there is something about it which I cannot find the words to describe. Now I am no longer Roman Catholic I’m a Protestant my reasons for that are long and complex.
and I remember once I was on foot patrol in Tilbury and I was just passing the Roman Catholic Church and the priest was on the doorstep and I said good morning and he acknowledged it but when I told him that I had become a Protestant his face went white and said I was risking my immortal soul and that I should say an act of confession and put myself right with the church.
I think it’s more important to put yourself out with God than with any institution. What is the most important thing for a believer the most important thing for a believer is to stay true to scripture. This week we have seen a former Anglican Bishop and chaplain to the Queen following in the footsteps of of Cardinal St Thomas Henry Newman and becoming a Roman Catholic.
My journey of faith went in the opposite direction I went from being a Roman Catholic where I once thought about going into holy orders when I was younger.
I now sit in a Wesleyan/Holiness Church called the Church of the Nazarene and whilst we have some doctrinal differences I think we can sit in each other’s company as Christian Brothers and Sisters should.
My problem with the Anglican church is that it is so wanting to fit in, in wanting to be seen as relevant it has become less relevant. Its willingness to compromise on almost anything that secularism demands has led it to be less relevant and that is what secularism wants.
I am mindful of the phrase that “we are in the world but not of the world”
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
John 17:14-16 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
It would seem that Jesus understood the conundrum that we often find ourselves in.
He understood the many tensions we would experience as Christians living in a hostile ideological environment. The authors of the New Testament went out of their way to tell us that we have to be in communication with the world that we live in but we had to do it in such a way that it pleased God rather than the culture we live in.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Roman’s 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
So we have to ask ourselves what is it to be in the world but not of the world.
Perhaps the answer has to do with location and information.
God may have placed this in a situation where the Christian worldview is challenged and that’s not a bad thing. God places us in locations where we can have a positive impact on those who have not heard the message of Christ. God takes those who were once lost in order to find and those who are lost and a case in point is my very good friend in Burnley. He was lost, lost in a sea of addictions but but God had a plan for him. Who do I use to reach out to those who are lost in this sea of addiction who do I use the gain the trust of those lost in a sea of addictions. I use someone who themselves was lost in a sea of addictions.
When I talk about information, we get it from a wide medium of sources and a lot of it encourages us to stray from the path that God has laid before us. There are a number of different paths we can walk but there is only one path that we should walk and that is the path that leads directly to God and in order to stay on that path we must not allow ourselves to be corrupted by the world.
And and wherever you are tonight, whatever situation you are in and if you just happened to come across this Facebook post I want to pray God’s blessings upon you for God has a plan for you you as he has the someone else I could mention.
The other week I told you about a vision that I had in which God actually spoke to me. Where I asked the question what will become of a man’s soul if he dies outside the grace of God. And God’s answer was “that a man must be laid down before he can be risen up” I understand it now that we must come before God and lie prostrate before him and cast off all those things that cause the darkness of the heart before we can rise up as new creations.
God has his eye on someone and that someone doesn’t know it yet but all will be revealed when he wants it to be revealed.
May almighty God pardon you from your sins may he restore you and renew you and finally may he sanctify you.
My dear friends when you see someone in need what do you do, do you stop and say how can I help or do you see the person in need but say to yourself not my problem somebody else’s problem and without a thought walk by on the other side of the street because my friends there are many people who would do exactly that.
Sometimes I wonder what if I had a callousness of the heart would I be better off especially financially, well yes certainly.
Well it’s not who I am and I hope it’s not who you are. It is true that I am of large stature and I am compassionate but unlike the man spoken about by John Wesley I am not insensitive to the needs of the many because I see them everyday.
In every street in every Village, every street in every town, every street in every city you see so many people who have such diverse needs. I know it is difficult to try and cater for all of them believe me in some small way I have tried.
When you see someone in the gutter especially if you’re a Christian or a person of faith do not leave that person languish in the gutter because one day that person could be you and if you have not helped another human being then there may come a time when you are in difficulty and you will not be helped.
No one should be left in the dark you should be light to them as he is a light to you. As a Christian my faith is a sacrificial faith as Christ sacrificed himself for me is it not right that I should sacrifice some part of myself for the stranger who is in need.
I make a mockery if I say I believe but do not practice what I believe. I am a Christian and I am a socialist the two things are indivisible they feed each other. Be not ashamed if you suffer from excessive compassion rather be ashamed if you have have a callousness of the heart.
I hope this day that if you see any of your brothers and sisters in great need that you will stop and say how can I help.
The reward for an act of random kindness to a stranger in need is unmeasurable. You may not receive it in this life but I can tell you will receive it in the next.
None of us are in any doubt about the levels of income inequality in this country. Would it surprise anybody if I were to say that they were there during the time of Charles Wesley and that they were there during the time of William Booth. For as much as the world has changed and has advanced technologically for the poor it changes very little.
We read in the Gospel of St.Luke in the sixth chapter verse 20 how the poor will be lifted up and be exalted. Looking up at His disciples, Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”.
I find this statement so powerful, here we have Jesus who was all compassion who was all about lifting people up saying to the poor yours is the kingdom of God. He wasn’t saying this to the wealthy no quite the opposite if we remember that parable of the rich young ruler when Jesus said if you want to be a follower of mine then give up your wealth dispense with it all then follow me and then you will have a place in the Kingdom. We know from that parable that the rich young ruler went away depressed because he could not part with his wealth after all if he parted with his wealth he would become poor he didn’t quite like the thought of that yep the reward is great.
Now when it comes to the poor we don’t really have to keep them in that state it’s about answering their needs. Not all people have the same needs but if we do our best to answer those needs I’m sure we will be looked down on quite favorably. What sin is it to ask those with the greatest wealth to step down a rung on the ladder so that our poor brothers and sisters can step up a rung. We should not be about keeping people in the gutter.
Redistribution of wealth is not in itself a bad thing. We have it practiced by the disciples in the second and fourth chapter of the Book of Acts. It is only our propensity for greed and averisk which has led us to the situation in which we find ourselves and are we not all guilty of it and should we not be ashamed of it.
There are times when I feel ashamed of this country with its grotesque levels of income inequality. Many people with great wealth probably far too much than they will ever need and many people with no wealth. Do the wealthy know the struggles of the poor even as today the wealthy do not know the struggles of the poor how much therefore has it changed since 1786 when John Wesley preached the very same thing when he said reason why the rich have so little sympathy for the poor is because they seldom visit them.
If you do not visit or associate with your poor brothers and sisters how do you know what they suffer. Too many at the top of the ladder suffer from a callousness of heart and they lack empathy for the sufferings of those beneath them.
We live in a world where it’s dog eat dog survival of the fittest all about the individual but never about the community in which we live. But when we look at the early church in Jerusalem how nobody owned anything nobody had individual possessions and what was possessed was shared among those who had nothing so that in the end all needs were met.
How many of us could truly say that we could get by without owning anything without the possessions we gather around us, possessions we cannot take with us when we go on our last journey. We gather these possessions and they become like idols and we worship them. What does it say in the book of Job ” those that cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. You do not need great wealth to live a comfortable life what you need is enough to meet your daily needs and that’s all
My dear friends when people think of common ownership or ownership in common they generally think about Marx but the idea of common ownership is not Marxian its Christian in fact the first church in Jerusalem held everything in common and the proof of it is to be found in the second and fourth chapter of the book of acts.
43-45 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met ( Mick Fleming this is powerful stuff I tell you, its challenging perhaps that’s why we don’t read it out in churches)
32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. (Mick Fleming I honestly think this is where we have all lost our way, so consumed by the need to posses more and more we have lost our souls. What does it say in the book of Job ” those that cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” God’s grace is the greatest wealth we could ever posses).
34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.
( from each according to their Labour to each according to their need) what can be more Christian than that. John McDonnell’s interview with Alistair Campbell was quite revealing when he said that Jesus was the son of God and that Jesus’s life on earth was a model for socialist living and how he believed in the New Testament.
As time catches up with us we are faced with those searching questions. WHO AM i, WHY AM i HERE, IS THIS ALL THAT THERE IS, IS THERE NOTHING MORE. These deep philosophical questions no human can answer, for we cannot even answer them ourselves. These questions are actually us looking for assurance which we look for more and more as we get older and face our inevitable demise but they are questions that only the Almighty can answer.